IT consulting is a competitive field. Making matters even more difficult is the complexity and constant change in the industry. Here are four mistakes IT consultants make, as well as advice on how to avoid making many of these mistakes yourself.
A major mistake IT consultants make is promising to meet unrealistically early deadlines, sometimes assuming everything will take the optimum time and failing to give themselves slack. Or they promise to meet the deadline the customer wants instead of giving themselves the time it takes to do the project right.
One of the worst mistakes IT consultants make to try to meet their unrealistic schedules is cutting short testing. They drop the complex and thorough test plans in favor of minimal functional testing, creating the real possibility that system interfaces, critical but rarely used functions or error handling fails. This will hurt your reputation as a consultant when you admit you didn’t test these things in the final product. Instead, give yourself and your team plenty of time; an extra couple of days in the schedule could mean thorough testing of last minute bug fixes or telling the client you’re ahead of schedule.
Get It in Writing
Don’t work without a contract that includes an agreed pay rate. If someone wants to add new requirements to the scope of work, get it in writing and approved by the customer so that you don’t end up working on one manager’s wants and ignoring someone else’s needs. And take the time to document what you did, so that you can argue later you did do what they wanted.
Trying to Be the Master of Everything
A major mistake many IT consultants make is trying to do everything themselves or within their own team. They may know the hardware but try to learn on their own how to migrate software applications instead of hire help. Or they know software development but try to take on hardware problems because that’s what the client is paying for. While it is incredibly beneficial to complete the Norwich University online master of science in information security & assurance program so you can implement improved IT security measures for your client, too many IT consultants try to set up IT security measures themselves instead of outsourcing such critical and complex systems.
If you’re working on upgrading a website or network and that’s your area of expertise, certainly, do so. Or you could get an information security degree from Norwich University instead of assuming speed reading on the latest issues will let you bill the IT security consultant’s rates.
You can reduce the odds of making this type of mistake by limiting the number of services you offer to clients to what your team knows how to do well. And call in subject matter experts you’ve already vetted for specific tasks you don’t know well.
Don’t underestimate the schedule or promise to meet an unreasonable deadline. Only promise the expertise you can deliver to the quality your clients expect. Get everything from requirements to formal scope of work in writing, and don’t let scope creep eat into your profit margin.